Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Whole Damn Thing: STAR TREK: DS9 #8

Okay, bear with me guys. Barring one episode, these are going to be rather hard to write, because that means watching them again and frankly, I'd rather eat fucking bleach. I vowed I'd try to recap every episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but holy God this is damn near impossible.

Oh well, let's get it over with.

"SECOND SIGHT"

"Now we have something to talk about" [SPOILER: We don't]

In which Sisko falls for a girl who can telepathically send her Mary Sue out for walkies.

Kevin Murphy once said Star Trek Prime Directive should be "Never do comedy." I would also add "romance" to that list, especially when it's done as bad as this.

In short, because I don't want to spend any more time on this than I have to: On the anniversary of Sisko's wife's death, he meets a girl on the station who mysteriously appears and disappears. Oh, and she's played by the same girl who did Elisa Maza's voice on Gargoyles, which proves that you can move her to another show, but she will always go for the guy with the sexiest voice. Hard to fault her for that.

The problem is, that's the Mary Sue version of Nidell, who is from a planet wherein people can project their idealised selves out of their brains and well, she needs all the help she can get because she's married to Seyetik, who is the main reason this episode causes me physical pain to watch.

Because Seyetik is an asshole. A big one. Bigger than the Judge in Pink Floyd: The Wall, who was literally just a big asshole--he is a bigger asshole than an asshole could be in the singular infinitive form of assholery could conceivably been. He is a big pompous blowhard, constantly given to proclaiming his greatness and self-mythologizing at every opportunity. This in and of itself is not a problem.

The problem is that we're supposed to like him, and his overweening douchebagginess makes this physically, conceptually, and mathematically impossible. I mean like "Warren Ellis starring in a tender love story with Jennifer Aniston with no credibility problems at all" kind of impossible.

Because one infers if Nidell is sending her dream-self off to canoodle with Sisko, she's obviously unhappy, and she is. The main reason for her unhappiness seems to be Seyetik, and she's not alone--he makes me unhappy, too. But there's a clear chain of cause and effect here which explains everything.

However--and follow the logic if you can--we're meant to feel sad when Seyetik commits suicide at the end of the episode. And I don't, because he's an asshole and good riddance. I don't care about Nidell's happiness because she walks around with a stick up her ass and forgets everything that Mary Sue got to do so . . .yeah, if I don't care, then what's the point?

That said, I am glad Seyetik died. God almighty what a fucking asshole.

"SANCTUARY"

This will be your quarters while you're here at the station. I'm sure you wanna rest and clean up and you don't understand anything I'm saying, do you?"

Thankfully, this is a better episode all-around (thank Christ) A huge fleet of refugees, the Skreeans, come through the wormhole, dispossessed after the brutal race that conquered them were themselves annihilated by the Dominion (but really, how dangerous can they be?) The are millions of Skreeans, far more than the station can comfortably handle, and they aren't really mingling well with the local citizenry, either.

To further complicate things, the Skreeans are convinced they have found Khentanna, a "planet of sorrow" the Skreeans would make whole. To the unending consternation of everyone, the planet the Skreeans have their eyes on is Bajor, who's already having their own problems and can't absorb three million refugees into their population. The Skreeans argue that they're a race of farmers, and they could help ease the famine on Bajor.

Speaking of which, the Skreeans liaison is Kira, which is our main generator of drama and grounds what would otherwise be a rather heavy-handed parable about immigration into something a little less didactic and a little more immediate. Because Kira has all the sympathy in the world for the Skreean's plight, but she also knows intimately that Bajor isn't much better off and as much as she might want to, they can't.

The Skreeans, of course, see it as betrayal--the Bajorans don't want them there because they don't like the Skreeans. Despite their assurances that if their crops don't take they don't expect the Bajorans to help them, but the Bajorans can't just let them stay on their planet and die, can they? Of course not.

It's a very thought-provoking episode and it gains much from handling a topical issue with a deft hand that makes sense within the fictional universe of the show, rather than hijacking everything for the sake of pounding home the moral of this episode's story with a goddamned sledgehammer (which they will do next season when we get TWO episodes telling us that while homelessness is bad it's all to do with people "forgetting how to care.") and is well worth your time and patience to watch.

Next episode, however . . .

"RIVALS"

"I just stumbled around the court for 90 minutes and made an ass out of myself!"

Oh, God DAMN it, it's another fucking comedy. In which Quark has a new business rival, the astoundingly charisma-free Martus Mazur, who opens up a rival casino with some kind of technobabble machine that gives people good luck but alters other people's luck and also threatens to destroy the stations, but everything's all right in the end.

That's all you get from me about this episode. I hate it. I hate every attempt to make it all jovial and clever and I hate every forced laugh that makes the flat comedy mutate into something so unfunny that it almost becomes rancid. In the meantime, here is the utterly inexplicable yet far more entertaining ending of Werner Herzog's movie Strozek:




"THE ALTERNATE"

"Death rituals?"
"Everyone needs a hobby."

Yes, well, it's going to take a few times to get this right. Dr. Mora comes to the station to see Odo, who acts all awkward, as Dr. Mora was the scientist who was assigned to figure out just what the hell Odo was, and whole Mora may consider himself Odo's "father," Odo couldn't disagree more and generally acts like we all did when we were teenagers and were embarrassed by the mere fact of our parents' existence, never mind what they did in our presence. This is, of course, overlaid with some outright anger from Odo because, well, he was treated like a lab rat.

This leads to a rather complicated externalization of this as surprise surprise, Our Heroes (and Dr. Mora) are menaced by a monster who has some genetic resemblances to Odo, shapeshifts like Odo and come to think of it, is Odo.

There's a lot of plot details I'm leaving out, but it's all just backdrop to the main conflict--Odo and his surrogate father. Unfortunately, the notion of "latent stepdaddy issues being enough to turn you into a shapeshifting monster" is so ludicrous that the whole thing kinda falls apart.

Not to say there isn't mileage in this story--it's done to much better effect in Season 5. But this kinda doesn't work at all, and as such, is best left ignored. It'll be better if we just wait for the Season 5 episode when this will totally work better.

And that's it for this Pyrrhic edition of DS9. Join us next week when the two most ridiculous haircuts in the universe team up to kill Bashir and O'Brien in "Armageddon Game;" O'Brien has too much paranoias, too much paranoias, his mother's afraid to tell him the things she's afraid of in "Whispers;" Sisko and O'Brien meet the Space Amish (This time I'm sure) in "Paradise;" and we get our last teaser for the Dominion in the otherwise completely forgettable "Shadowplay." What does not kill you can only make you stronger!

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